Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell) is a teenager in an affluent suburb who appears to be completely disconnected (due in no small part to the happy pills prescribed by his celebrity psychiatrist father). When he finds his best friend Troy dead (a suicide), he doesn’t even tell anyone about it. He is forced to become involved when three other teens kidnap a boy they think is Dean’s brother in order to force him to find Troy’s drug stash. Turns out they’ve kidnapped the wrong boy, and so begins a chain…reaction of events that might lift the lid off the smug, self-satisfied, oblivious community.
There are echoes of Donnie Darko here in the film’s mordant tone and black humour, and fans of that film might well get a real kick out of this. This is an affecting portrait of directionless teens and self-absorbed adults, with some real satiric kick. Quite the cast, too: Glenn Close is the bereaved mother, Ralph Fiennes is the spaced out mayor, Carrie-Anne Moss is the predatory MILF, and so on. Definitely worth checking out.
On the one hand, the audio is very loud: the level is much higher than it is on the average disc. At the same time, the surround aspect is rather low-key, reflecting that this is, in many ways, a fairly quiet film. The environmental effects that are present are quite effective, and this is largely due to very effective placement. A prime example is when Dean’s younger brother (Rory Culkin) is playing a video game. The sounds of the game are always coming out of the correct speaker with respect to the camera’s placement. The score sounds fine.
The transfer is a very handsome one. The colours are strong, as are the contrasts, flesh tones and blacks. There is no visible edge enhancement. There is a very little bit of grain, but it is barely noticeable. The image is sharp, even in long shots, and the original 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio is preserved. A great-looking disc all round.
Director Arie Posin and writer Zac Stanford turn in an interesting commentary, delving into the whys and wherefores are the technical aspects, tying them into the thematic concerns. The making-of featurette is a decent example of its kind, and there are 10 deleted or extended sequences. There are a couple of previews, but they’re just promo filler. The menu’s intro, main screen, and transitions are animated and score, while the other screens are scored.
Quirky, funny and pointedly dark, this could well be a cult phenomenon aborning.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted/Extended Scenes
- Making-of Featurette